ARCA 2008 VOTP Race Weekend 3

This was a trial in itself getting to the track and it was filled with drama – just about to leave  for the track and a tire leak on the trailer is found.

They say half the battle is getting to the track and how true it is as I continue the journey.

The most important part about racing is that technical inspection sticker on the race car. It’s like a badge of honour for the car (yes, I know it’s an inanimate object). It’s a race car.

Let’s go over the drama to the track.  I am disappointed at how un prepared the vehicle is for road racing. This is the second event and again I have fallen short of my expectation. What I learned in the first event created an even longer list of tasks to complete. Granted I have been correcting the setup as it had too many compromises with a friend that did not fully appreciate the racing craft.

Anyway, every waking moment was filled with setup all the way through to roll call. I get once again with no more than a few hours of sleep. It’s  6 a.m. and what do I find, but a busted valve stem on one of the trailer tires and of course with no spare. Just to add to the equation I am borrowing the trailer too. Is this sign?

I call Rick and tell him my predicament and how I might just bow out. He won’t hear it and says to meet him at the track and borrow a trailer there. Don’t worry about being late. A minute later Ant calls me and he is stuck; the Sentra won’t start. I’m not the only one.

I am still sleep deprived at this point so what do i do? I look for some fast setting cement glue, a heat gun, and then wrap the valve stem in duct tape. I kid you not, but it holds 40 psi for pressure.  So off to Ant’s house to see what the issue is.

I throw the booster pack onto the Sentra and it fires to life. A quick check to see if the alternator is throwing a charge and it reads over 13V. Good enough to get to the track and we’ll sort it out then. Race car problems.

The majority of my time was spent in weight balance and suspension tuning. This is also where reality and what I thought (read) comes crashing in and folds itself inside out.  Everyone talks about 50/50 weight ratio. The reality is that it’s a dream. A front mount engine will always be front heavy. While you can achieve a 50/50 split it is the cross weights that show the true balance of the car. Realistically the FF or FR you want to see a 60% cross weight (less is better).

The other fact is any suspension changes will naturally move weight. This can be desirable or in many cases headache to move back. You then need to take into account the track and how much weight you want to move.

Anyway, this is no NSX where you can get a 50/50 split and a 50/50 cross weight. The turbo, manifold, and supporting parts just add so much weight to the front for the civic.

Anyway, we are at the track and that is all that matters. Gary meets up and we chat about the green beast (his sentra) and why my booster pack is sitting by the sentra.  Apparently, this is a common problem and the solution is a BMFH solution – he takes a hammer and hits the terminal. As shocking (pun) as it sounds that was the solution.

Yup, those are TE37’s I’m using to hold the tent down.

 

I ended up pitting far away as I was late and there was no room in the Inn. Ant got a spot because Gary being Ant’s pit crew was able to be at the gate early to save a spot. Gary didn’t know about me so he didn’t get a chance to also save me a spot. I’m not too sure even then if he could. So the decision was then made that I pit incorrectly so that I could be close by for assistance.

Mark and Spencer would drop by later if they had time.

After qualifying, Stu comes by and tells me to stop being nice on the track and drive more aggressive. I said I would try, but the car still doesn’t want to listen. I still feel the rear lock up, but it’s inconsistent.

Race 1 comes up I’m late to the line up. I was busying bleeding the brakes as they felt spongy after qualifying. The pack just left the gate and I just got to the staging area. Technically I could join the line, but there is a 10kmh speed limit and I dare not find out what happens if I jammed on it. Anyway, as a result the marshal’s are waving furiously for me to join and they point me out to the track instead of going through the hot pits.

I have brakes again and go on the hunt to keep up with the white BMW M3 (E36 I think). I start ignoring the rear wobble and actually start to catch up with the white M3 and then a violent over steer entering corner 1.  I a do a loop in the grass and come back on the track only to get a black flag waved at me.

The black flag was a quick stop and go penalty which left me confused – along with 12 other race cars. After the race I find out that it was for not driving through the hot pits when joining the pace lap – it is a rule i know. However, I find that road racing is filled with contradictions. As I understand the pit marshal has full authority – it wasn’t worth arguing and I’m pretty low in the totem pole. Life goes on 🙂

Later on in the afternoon we shuffle cars around and I’m with Rick and Kevin. I got into a little trouble also for being not in a pit stall. Yup, the trouble maker for the weekend.

Spencer show’s later up in the day and I have a pit crew 🙂 Ya!

The shiny Type R wheels with RA1’s

The endurance round comes and this time I am better prepared. I’ve decided to ignore the lock up and weird wobble that comes with driving (in hindsight things make sense as to what was going on).  We quickly bleed the brakes again and topped up fuel. This time we are about 5 minutes early. I get ready and ask Spencer to torque the the last wheel and recheck the wheels as I needed to change. Things seem to be good until I roll out to track.  I get on the track and a massive wobble from the rear show ups. The safest spot to pull over was at corner 5 mid exit and I park it there for… 55 minutes.

Lessons learned:

  • Need to put back the camel pouch so that i have water. I was sweating bullets in 28C weather.
  • Always recheck and re-clarify

Apparently, I had a bunch friends run to try and stop me (Gary and Spencer) as they saw the wheel move as I went out. Afterwards, Jason W went as far as trying to convince the safety crew to let him go out and help torque the wheel.

Spencer felt pretty bad but, it is what it is.  There is just never enough time yet to be able to slow things down. In race 2 the other EG (Dom) sheered his lug nut and that put him out. I’m happy no damage 🙂

Part 2

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